How Can I Prevent Erectile Dysfunction?

Preventing erectile dysfunction (ED) overlaps a great deal with good glucose management. Many of these "prevent ED" tips are also diabetes self-care reminders.

Good Blood Sugar Management.

Following your diabetes treatment regimen can prevent or delay complications such as blood vessel and nerve damage, which are problems that increase the risk of ED.

Eat Well and Limit Alcohol.

Food that's good for the heart is also good for the penis. An erection requires good blood circulation and circulation decreases when people eat a lot of processed, fatty foods and not enough vegetables or fruit. Research indicates that men who eat plenty of whole grains, fruits, veggies, healthy oils (e.g., olive oil), fish, and nuts are less likely to develop ED.

Low or moderate alcohol consumption is not considered an ED risk factor, although regular heavy drinking is. Alcohol leads to nerve and kidney damage and disrupts the body’s hormonal balance.

Healthy Weight and Regular Exercise.

Maintaining a healthy weight is good for blood sugar control and good glucose levels keep blood vessels and nerves in the genitals healthy. One way to sustain a healthy weight is exercising regularly.

Aerobic exercises (tennis, walking, swimming, biking) are great ways to improve circulation and prevent ED. However, exercise that puts intense pressure on the blood vessels and nerves serving the penis can contribute to dysfunction.

The sensitive area between the scrotum and anus, the perineum, can be damaged by frequent bike riding. It is recommended that men bikers wear padded cycling shorts, stand up often when pedaling, and use a comfortable, preferably “no-nose” bike seat.

Gaining an erection requires open blood vessels and stress hormones contract them. The right ways to relieve stress are the ways that work for you, whether it be meditation, gardening, reading, listening to music, or video games.

Avoid Anabolic Steroids and Cigarettes.

Although anabolic steroids help athletes bulk-up, they have the opposite effect on testicles and disrupt the ability to produce testosterone. Low testosterone can cause ED.

Smoking restricts blood flow by damaging blood vessels. The nicotine in cigarettes causes blood vessels to contract, limiting circulation to the penis.

Sources: Mayo Clinic; WebMD
Photo credit: Vern / flickr creative commons

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